Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Javier Assad heads to the mound in his Major League debut in Game 1 of … [+]
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The cost of going to a game at Wrigley Field has steadily increased for at least the last three decades. In 2022, a Cubs game cost the average fan $364.83. Only a game at Fenway Park was more expensive.
But on Wednesday, the Cubs announced that the average price of season ticket packages was going down 5.1 percent.
This decrease is in keeping with recent past practice. After the Cubs lost over 100 games in 2012, prices the following year went down by almost 4 percent. Ticket prices took a jump again following the team’s success in 2015 and 2016, but the Cubs have not had a winning season since the shortened 2020 campaign.
The drop in ticket prices also coincides with declining attendance at Wrigley. In 2022, the Cubs drew 2,616,780 fans to the ballpark (keeping in mind that that number reflects the number of tickets sold, not actual butts in seats). That number is the lowest for the organization since 2014 and the first time under three million in a full attendance season since 2015. The last time the Cubs drew numbers that low — again, not counting 2020 and limited attendance restrictions in 2021 — was 1997.
“We know that season tickets are really a long-term commitment,” Cale Vennum, the Cubs’ vice-president of ticketing, told the Athletic’s Jon Greenberg. “And our fans have a lot of different choices when it comes to where they’re going to spend their entertainment dollars. And, you know, we wanted to be responsive to the changes that we’re seeing in that really competitive environment.
“We’re really hopeful that providing a decrease to our season-ticket holders is going to demonstrate that commitment that we have to them and the support that they’ve given us on this journey to build back the next great Cubs team.”
These changes mean fans will notice a few dollars’ difference per ticket at Wrigley in 2023. For instance, a bleacher seat will be about three dollars cheaper next year, and infield box seats around five dollars cheaper.
Whether this means more fans will come to the ballpark next year or not will probably have more to do with whether the Cubs are winning. Wrigley has always been a good draw, even during some of the organization’s worst years, but as the wins go away, so do many of the fans. Lower attendance numbers this season were most likely more a reflection of the team’s spot in the standings than the cost of the tickets. The Cubs finished 74-88 and third in the National League Central. The last two years have been the worst back-to-back seasons in close to a decade.
Cubs team president Jed Hoyer has said he hopes to be active in the free agent market again this winter — he was able to lure Marcus Stroman and Seiya Suzuki a year ago — and a few more big names on the roster might encourage greater attendance. And a perception that the Cubs are trending upward would help as well.
“I think it’s a really great time to be a season ticket holder,” Vennum said. “You’re in a situation where the arrow of the team is pointing up and there’s some momentum behind the team performance, as you saw through the back half of the year. And at the same time, your price is going to go down.”